Sandra Wu-San (Lady Shiva)

ladyshivafilmAnother character from Brick89‘s request, this time quite a badass: Lady Shiva, possibly the most skilled martial artist in the DC Universe. This fighter appeared only in the short-lived Birds of Prey, and she is portrayed by Sung-Hi Lee as a masked thief, a nemesis of Oracle from her time as Batgirl; she holds quite a grudge against the heroine, as Batgirl was responsible for the accidental death of her teenager sister during their last fight. In her civilian identity as Sandra Woosan (a slight misspelling from the original Sandra Wu-San) she’s also a former classmate of Helena Wayne. She proves to be an equal warrior to both Batgirl and Huntress, but she remains a “simple” thief nevertheless, thus being quite distant from her original counterpart, who’s been both a formidable villain, and a relentless hero: let’s see together.

There are multiple versions of Lady Shiva’s origins. According to the oldest one, she was the goddaughter of O-Sensei, the world’s greatest martial arts master, and she lived with him along with her sister Carolyn in Kyoto. When O’Sensei left Japan to the United States along with his two disciples Richard Dragon and Ben Turner, Carolyn followed them, but she ended up being killed by the Swiss, an international assassin who was targeting ladyshivacomics1Dragon. Guano Cravat, a corrupted businessman who held a grudge against Dragon, convinced Sandra that Richard was the actual responsible of her sister’s death, so the young woman started training in martial arts to get revenge: she soon discovered she was a prodigy, and she reached a master’s level in no time. Adopting the name “Lady Shiva”, she embarked in a revenge crusade against Richard Dragon and whoever else was involved in Carolyn’s death. In a more recent retelling, both Sandra and Carolyn were born in a remote village run by the League of Assassins. The two had been trained since their childhood to be the protectors of the village, but after constant abuses and tortures they decided to leave, and they fled to the US, in DetroitMichigan, where they continued their combat training together, but embraced a totally different life. One day, while sparring, the two were spotted by international assassin David Cain, who realized that Sandra was holding back not to hurt Carolyn; in order to allow her explore her true potential, Cain killed Carolyn, leaving her body to be found by Sandra. Heart-broken and bent on revenge, Sandra pursued Cain around the world… only to be ambushed by the group Cain was a part of, the League of Assassins, still on her trails. Sandra fought and lost, but she was granted the opportunity to live: she would have had to bear Cain’s son, who would have become Ra’s al Ghul‘s most perfect bodyguard. She agreed, and in the time of her pregnancy she further explored her potential. When her daughter, Cassandra, was born, Sandra Wu-San was a new woman: she was Lady Shiva, creator and destroyer.

Being it a way or the other, Shiva started traveling the world, putting herself to the test by meeting and defeating the best martial artists around. She became somewhat addicted to life-or-death situations, and when she met Richard Dragon she decided to follow him, as danger constantly haunted him and the ones he loved. She formed a trio with Dragon and his partner Ben Turner, and the three of them became crime fighters for a while, even if for Shiva it was just a way to keep practicing martial arts on a superior level; Richard tried to change her soul by letting her know the spiritual side of martial arts, inner peace and balance, but he failed, and when the three parted ways, Shiva started selling her skills as a mercenary and an ladyshivacomics2assassin for hire. With the money she earned from her activities she could finance her training and travels, obsessed with honing her skills to perfection. Something of the old Sandra Wu-San, however, was still there, and when Reverend Hatch, a corrupt politician from Hub City, hired her to kill the masked vigilante The Question, it resurfaced: Shiva defeated Question without the slightest effort, but she was able to sense a “passion” in him, and she decided to spare his life. She rescued him from Hatch’s men, and she brought him to Richard Dragon’s hideout on the mountains, so that her former friend and mentor could treat and teach him. When the vigilante was able to come back to Hub City again, Shiva first challenged him, confirming her first impressions on him, and then let him go. She continued traveling the world, even clashing from time to time with the League of Assassins, until she found an agreement with Ra’s al Ghul and the two started a cooperation of sort. In the Middle East, while training some terrorists, she met Batman, on the trails of the second Robin‘s parents: she managed to defeat him as well, and the Dark Knight only managed to restrain her thanks to the intervention of Robin. Following this encounter she resumed her “hunt for masters”, a path that put on the same path as many superheroes and supervillains, such as Green ArrowBlack Canary, Bane, Nightwing, Prometheus and many others, always learning what she could from her masters and opponents, then killing them when they were of no more use to her. Perfection was the only goal.

Sandra Wu-San is a cold and remorseless killer, but also a passionate and honorable fighter, who respects a worthy opponent and a deserving master. As Lady Shiva, she doesn’t have any superpower, but she’s easily the best hand-to-hand fighter alive, master of a remarkable number of styles and disciplines, even long-forgotten ones; she barely has any rival, being able to foresee any movement in her opponent, and to immediately calculate strengths and weaknesses in anybody. Obsessed by perfection, Lady Shiva continues to fight rival after rival, aiming at the absolute top of the martial arts’ ladder… and she’s pretty close to reaching it.


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